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Inquiry into Claremont hate crime allegation complete, findings yet to be released

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 22. 2018 5:32PM
'Hatred and bigotry will not be tolerated in New Hampshire,' Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement after dispatching state investigators to help Claremont police investigating the alleged assault. (Facebook)

CONCORD — State prosecutors confirmed late last week that they have completed their investigation into the alleged assault eight months ago of an 8-year-old boy in Claremont, who family members say was the target of racial slurs.

The results remain confidential, however, because the alleged aggressors were juveniles, according to Claremont police and state officials.

The boy’s grandmother told authorities her biracial grandson suffered rope burns Aug. 28 around his neck after a group of teens started calling the boy racial epithets, threw sticks and rocks at his legs.

The bullying juveniles then put a rope from an old tire swing around the boy’s neck and pushed him off a picnic table so that he swung back and forth on the rope until he could remove it from around his neck, the grandmother said.

The victim was airlifted to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon for treatment of his injuries.

Claremont police said the juveniles under investigation ranged in age, with the youngest only 8.

The incident attracted national media attention and some civil rights leaders condemned the local police response.

In the wake of that criticism, Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald announced his office would look into the matter.

On Friday, Senior Assistant Attorney General Lisa Wolford announced that phase is now over.

“Yes, our investigation into the Claremont incident involving an 8-year-old child has been completed,” she said.

Asked when the results would be made public, Wolford replied, “We intend to be fully transparent and will issue a public report as soon as the law permits.”

Two weeks after the incident, Gov. Chris Sununu vowed to stay on top of the probe.

“It is my expectation that local and state authorities will investigate appropriately and I’ve asked for regular updates on how things are proceeding,” he said at the time.

John Formella, Sununu’s legal counsel, said MacDonald’s office will be forthcoming at the appropriate time.

“The Attorney General has committed to releasing more information about this case when he is legally able to do so,” Formella said in a statement Friday night.

Asked about the number and timing of updates Sununu received and whether documents about them were available under the Right to Know Law (RSA 91-A), Formella said, “Regarding your 91-A request: Our office has no documents that are responsive to your request.”

Relatives of the victim claim racial bias played a role in the attack and that a white, teenager was the instigator.

The parents of the accused boy told Newsweek that it was not a racially-motivated crime but a tragic accident, and that their family had since been subjected to violent threats against them.

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